How to Choose an Accredited Sonography School Near Fountain Hills Arizona
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Fountain Hills AZ, the next step is to begin the procedure of picking a school. First, you must find the right program that will provide the necessary instruction to become a qualified professional. And given that some states do mandate that ultrasound techs be either licensed or certified, depending on your residence you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's very important that you investigate each program in order to assess and compare your choices. But just where does one begin? Many potential students will begin by searching for colleges that are within travelling distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be considered when making a decision, but there are additional important factors as well. For instance, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and additional qualifiers will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training options that are offered.
Sonographer Job Description
There are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as sonogram techs, diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers) and ultrasound technologists. No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job function, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. While a number of techs practice as generalists there are specialties within the profession, for example in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Fountain Hills AZ hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Routine daily work tasks of an ultrasound technician may consist of:
- Preserving records of patient medical histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Prepping the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and re-calibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Assessing results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly evaluate the performance and safety of their equipment. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are mandated to enroll in continuing education training on a regular basis.
Ultrasound Technician Degree Programs Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the option to earn either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will normally involve about 18 months to 2 years to accomplish dependent on the program and class load. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to complete. Another alternative for those who have previously obtained a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have earned a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant medical field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer schools do have a practical training component as part of their course of study. It can often be satisfied by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges sponsor through Fountain Hills AZ clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the certificate or degree programs, you will then have to satisfy the licensing or certification requirements in Arizona or whichever state you choose to practice in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Fountain Hills AZ area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Online Sonogram Tech Classes
As aforementioned, virtually all sonogram tech schools have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus laboratory or at an authorized off campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Fountain Hills AZoutpatient clinic, hospital or family practice. But the rest of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Fountain Hills home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that continue working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less expensive than traditional options. Expenditures for study materials and commuting may be decreased as well. But just as with any ultrasound tech program you are reviewing, check that the online program you enroll in is accredited. One of the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for certification, licensing and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are disciplined enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree may be the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Ultrasound Technician Programs
When you have determined the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the process of assessing and comparing sonogram technician colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will attend classes online or travel to a school campus in the Fountain Hills AZ area. Obviously location will be critical if you choose the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualifier as well. But there are additional factors that you must also take into consideration, such as if the colleges are accredited and if they offer internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your final selection, below are a few questions that you may want to ask each ultrasound tech program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Tech Programs Accredited? Most sonogram technician colleges have earned some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still imperative to confirm that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs receiving accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone an extensive evaluation of their teachers and educational materials. If the school is online it may also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial aid and student loans, which are often not accessible for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for certification and licensing as required. And many Fountain Hills AZ health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited school for entry level jobs.
Are Internship Programs Offered? Ask if the ultrasound tech colleges you are evaluating have relationships with Fountain Hills AZ clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific means to receive hands on experience in a clinical environment, they are also a way to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As an ancillary benefit, they can help graduates and students establish professional connections in the Fountain Hills health care community and assist with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the sonographer schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arizona healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? For many students, the college they choose will have to be within travelling distance of their Fountain Hills AZ residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online obviously will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of local internships will be of concern. One thing to consider is that if you choose to enroll in a college that is out of state or even out of your local area, you may need to pay a higher tuition. State colleges usually charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition for those students that live outside of their districts.
What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the back of the classroom or hide in the crowd, you will likely prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and one-on-one instruction. Ask the colleges you are looking at what the average student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with some of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program also.
Can the School Accommodate your Schedule? And finally you need to verify that the ultrasound tech program you finally choose can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Fountain Hills AZ area, check that they are offered. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, check if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Ultrasound Tech Program
Enrolling in the right sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a rewarding new profession providing diagnostic services to patients. Sonographer colleges require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least fairly good physical condition, able to stand for prolonged periods and able to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy equipment. Additional desirable talents include technical proficiency, the ability to stay levelheaded when confronted by an anxious or angry patient and the ability to communicate in a clear and compassionate manner. As we have addressed in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each college you are reviewing. This is true whether you select an online program or commute to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can compare each program, you can narrow down your alternatives until you are left with the best school for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Fountain Hills Arizona.